We left Karakul in the early hours – 06H00. We have two new passengers, 2 ladies in their fifties from Holland, José and Mariam. We wake up every day with the same feeling. Today cannot be as beautiful as yesterday and yet it is! The morning sun on the lake and the snow peaks in the background is stunning. On the road Soyoun the driver is quite willing to stop for the photos to be able to smoke a cigarette each time. We would have told him to stop everywhere on the 63 km to the border. Again the camera cannot capture the ensemble, whether we look in the direction of China, Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan. Beauty here is abstract, cold. It is hard on the people who chose to live here. It does not give, they have to pay their tribute. It is cold, windy and snowy with below 0°C in summer.
We were the first of the day at the Tajik border. It took us only one hour to stamp the 5 passports, go through customs. Kim and I had never received and filled the entry form at the border entry at Oybek. The passport officer wanted to send us back 3000 km back. After a long negotiation and 60 som less (15 $) everything was in order and we were able to proceed to the Kyrgyz border 20 km away! Surprisingly there is a village – Bor-dobo – in-between?! By village I mean a few houses.
The Kyrgyz border was welcoming and sunny. The friendly officers introduced themselves to us. Football conversation and they were very intrigued by our road map, boasting that their peaks are higher than the Tajik ones. But it again took a longer hour.
Suddenly the landscape changes, all is green. The grey snowy peaks are behind us. Green rounded pastures with horses running freely and yurts scattered around. The natural landscape looks like golf links with snowy pits (instead of sand ones). Again beauty beyond description. All seems unchanged and untouched since centuries.
We arrived in Osh around 16H00 and it took us one hour to locate the hotel. Merci Lonely Planet! The same happened in Dushanbe when the hotel had moved. Shower was a blessing even if water was cold.
Osh is the second-largest city of Kyrgyzstan. It had its moment of glory with Alexander the great and Babur, but also sadly famously with the riots of 09 June 2010, almost exactly a year ago with 200 dead and 200 000 people displaced. Apparently these riots occurred mainly for ethnic reasons with a large number of Uzbeks living in this region. Again one of the errors of border drafting.